Becoming vegetarian is a more and more popular choice at university. It is cheaper and easier to cook. I inadvertently became a vegetarian when I first started university, I didn’t feel confident cooking with red meat, so I just didn’t and then last December, the looming climate crisis prompted me to give up red meat officially. At first, I found it easy, being at university and buying my own meals mean that I was in control of my meal choice, however when I moved back home, it wasn’t as easy to stick too. So, I came up with 5 easy vegetarian meals I could make at home without getting in my parents’ way that they could also eat and can also be added too in case I need a little something extra with them.
There are also many students who run their own cooking accounts who recommend budgeting and shopping lists. Some of my favourite ones are based out of the University of Nottingham, such as @studenteats_uk and @thestarvingstudent. This is a good place to start if you are unsure about turning vegetarian or even just unsure about what to eat.
There are classic meals like pasta and garlic bread, but sometimes you need something a bit more inventive that just fills you up. Some staple recipes that will also impress anyone you want to bring over. I will link the recipe to each one and add my own opinion.
1. Potato cakes with poached eggs on top
These are nice and easy and don’t take very long. The ingredients are also ones you don’t need to buy specially as they can be used in different meals. The key ones such as eggs or potatoes can be used to make dishes such as omelettes or jacket potatoes.
2. All in one lasagna
A classic dish and a good one that you can batch bake at the start of the week or alternatively you can cook for your parents. This does need slightly more specific ingredients than the previous dish but as you can eat it for longer and freeze part of it, it is very good in the long term.
3. Italian veggie cottage pie
This is the definition of comfort food. This reminds me of something my mum would make on a rainy Saturday afternoon. It’s warm and filling. It is an old classic and is full of healthy food.
4. Soy peanut noodles
This one doubles as lunch too. It can only be done in 15 minutes and can also be a side dish. Most of the ingredients you already have at home in your cupboard anyway. Regarding it as a side dish, you could have some salmon on the side and add some lemon. It is quite useful. Best of all it is bowl food, so you can curl up in front of the TV with this.
5. Roasted black bean burger
This is another slightly more complicated one, but it is worth it in the long and you can substitute a few things to make it simpler. Instead of using rye bread which to be honest isn’t a necessity you could buy plain burger buns. There are also somethings that in this recipe you might not actually need such as lime and coriander. Flavouring food is important but only if you know you’re going to be using that ingredient again.
Things to think about before you start cooking
Some key things to think about before you start cooking, particularly if you’re following recipes online which most of these are is check the serving size. The cottage pie, in particular, serves 6 so if it is just you eating that week, that’s 6 portions of that meal there! Some of which you can freeze, some of which you could eat that week. Also focus on the ingredients, as a student you want ones that can be reused frequently, a collection of spices is really useful, however, you don’t want to buy some Greek yoghurt for just one recipe, you’ll need to make sure that you can reuse it into another recipe or incorporate it as a snack with some mixed fruit.
My original reason for cutting down red meat has become even more relevant today, this sparks the debate on food waste even more. Many of my housemates are vegetarian for a number of different reasons, all of which are personal to them. But by ensuring you plan your meals out regularly, you can also help the climate crisis by cutting down on plastic waste and therefore having meals that are always ready without an excess of food in your cupboard.